Meet Filip, our Macedonian Fellow at our Brown University SLE Campus this semester.
I saw a sun. It was just a yellow circle with few rays dispersing from it, however my heart felt warmth. I felt happy, I remembered home.
My name is Filip and I come from Macedonia. Have you heard of it?
Maybe some of you will remember Alexander the Great. Yes, he was born there. He even became King of that ancient kingdom and went to conquer all of the known world at that time just as his teacher Aristotle foresaw.
Others may remember it as a country with more of Slavic background. Do you think it’s because of the language? I’d say not only that, but also the culture and customs, and the common history with many South-Slavic nations as part of former Yugoslavia.
Or, maybe you’ve seen that CNN ad about our marvelous food, which has not only Mediterranean, but also middle-eastern influence? Then, you must have thought that Macedonia is one of the oriental countries.
Whatever of these your thoughts have been when you read my homeland’s name – it’s true. We are Mediterranean and Slavic, oriental and western, traditional and modern at the same time.
Since the earliest of times, Macedonia has been on the crossroads between Europe and Asia. It was crossed by the ancient merchants on the Silk Road (which stopped in my hometown, Skopje!) or by the Roman armies on Via Egnatia. In the Middle Ages, as the fabulous Ohrid grew into the educational and cultural center of the Slavic peoples, many came to learn the arts of fresco-painting and writing, while translating the most important religious works into Church Slavonic, under the mentorship of Ss. Clement and Naum of Ohrid.
Later on, the winds brought the oriental influence of the magnificent Sultans and Viziers, who built the beautiful mosques, hammams and tekkes, which became centers of the Islamic arts on the Balkans.
And the new times, bring new challenges. After obtaining independence from socialist Yugoslavia, Macedonia as an independent republic fights many battles to preserve its national identity, beautiful language and rich culture, while integrating into the European Union and NATO.
In my course, we’ll go on an adventurous and intense journey. We’ll have fun and we’ll learn. We’ll uncover what time has hidden and discover new horizons. But, most importantly while learning Macedonian, you’ll increase your value both to yourself and the world. As an old Macedonian proverb goes: With a language you can do more than with thousand hands. That’s why learning a new language is important. Every person will look on you with different eyes, if you talk to them in their language. And this is especially true for the hospitable Macedonian people.
So, on this journey we’ll reach far. We’ll go to the heights of Korab Mountain and the depths of Ohrid Lake. We’ll be fascinated by the Macedonian wine-makers and delighted by the wonderful taste of the colorful cuisine. Are you ready to join?
Filip Simeski is a sophomore Mechanical Engineering concentrator at Brown University. He comes from Skopje, Macedonia and is interested in travel, technology and international issues. Filip speaks six foreign languages, along with his mother tongue Macedonian.